Last week's article discussed how to handle difficult decisions in the care of your pet. At the time, I was spurred to write the article based on my own difficult decision to declaw my cat. I was fortunate that my cat has handled her surgery with aplomb and has made a smooth adjustment to the loss of her claws. She seems amazingly unperturbed by her smaller paws with their purple stitches that have not yet dissolved. However, my situation is far more fortunate than that of many cat owners; if you are considering declawing your cat, you should have all the information before you make this significant decision.
Many people think, erroneously, that declawing a cat only involves the removal of the claws. However, the surgery actual involves amputation of the last joint of the cats' toes. The recovery period can be quite painful and difficult both physically and emotionally for your pet. Some cats will refuse to use the litter pan; others may become "biters" since they can no longer defend themselves with their claws. However, for some pet owners, declawing may be the only option available in order to protect their furniture and continue to provide a home for their pets. Before you make this decision, you should investigate all of the options available. One such option is "Softpaws" - plastic coverings which go over your cat's nails much like human artificial nails! When Softpaws are successful, they will last for several weeks before they must be replaced, and your cat cannot damage furniture with the plastic-covered claws. Unfortunately, my cat learned how to remove the Softpaws after only a day of use, so we were not able to use them - however, many pet owners report success with them. You may want to stop by your local major pet store to learn more about this option.